How to TRAIN a Virtual Assistant
Updated: Sep 8
Hiring a virtual assistant (VA) is one of the first things an entrepreneur or business owner can do.
With an assistant working for you remotely and getting all of the mundane tasks out of the way, you, as a business owner, will have more time to focus on critical tasks, like product development, sales, marketing, and customer success.
Once you’ve decided to hire a virtual assistant, know that you are making a step in the right direction.
You will, however, need to dedicate some time to training that VA.
And this can be tricky. Without the proper training, you could have someone misrepresenting your business or not following through on your assigned tasks.
Tips for Hiring a Virtual Assistant
When you’re first hiring a VA, you’ll have to put some effort into the hiring process. There are two main ways to go about hiring your VA: through freelancers or an agency.
Remember, you don’t want to go through the hiring process more than once. So be clear about job roles and expectations.
Here are some tips to streamline the hiring process:
Hire your VA through an agency: If you can, it’s best if you try to hire through an agency. They have the infrastructure and means in place to make sure that you will have a reliable VA.
In some instances, if your VA does not work out, they will find you a new one. If you hire freelancers, then you will have to fend for yourself to find new freelancers every time you need to.
Provide detailed instructions of what you want: One of the hardest parts of hiring a VA is getting one that works well for you. Be very clear about what you want. This pertains to the hiring process as well, so your VA understands clearly what you are expecting from them.
If you only want them to work two hours a week, then tell them that that is the cap. Tell them precisely what you want them to do and ask that they repeat it back to you to clearly understand what the task is.
Maybe you want them to post comments on a Quora question about how electrical services work, and then you want them to also provide the name of your company in the comments.
That’s great! Provide them with a few examples of finding worthy comment threads and what the comments look like.
Do not outsource tasks you don’t understand or have not done yourself: Always try to go through the tasks yourself to know what you want your VA to do.
If you don’t understand the tasks or have never done them before, you may have problems with the relationship. You may not know if the tasks were done correctly or if they are taking too long. Do a test run first.
Do not outsource critical business operations: Never outsource any vital parts of your job to your VA. Remember, they are only your assistant.
While you can outsource critical tasks to competent agencies, like your marketing strategy, you want to keep your VA focused on menial tasks.
11 Tips for Training Your Virtual Assistant
If you think you’ve found a suitable VA for the job, you will then need to train them. Here are 11 tips for training your VA:
1. Document Their Tasks
No matter what they are doing, you will need to write down their tasks clearly. Do this in addition to conveying the tasks over the phone or in-person conversation.
You’ll want to write down the tasks so that the VA has a reference sheet and so that you both are on the same page. You can provide the process in written or video format.
2. Loop Them into the Bigger Company Vision
You may be giving them a small task, like sourcing leads, but you will want to educate them on how this contributes to your overall business goals.
Not only will they feel included and more willing to help you, but they will also produce better results because they understand why they are helping. This helps them to understand that what they are doing is contributing to a larger business picture.
3. Clarify Your VA’s Win or Goal
In the same vein, you’ll also want to show them what a win looks like in their tasks. What does it look like when they succeed or when they’ve done something right? Show them examples of wins, and then make sure to celebrate these wins every time your VA does it!
You’ll then want to tie each win back into the overall goal of the business. If their goal is to cold call and then get leads, map out the sales funnel process so that they can see how their cold calls are contributing to conversions, sales, and overall business success. You can also consider a challenge, like getting a certain number of leads a month, to build your company’s success.
4. Start With Mini-tasks to Get Them Acclimated
You may have big lofty goals for your VAs (like getting new customers), but you will need to start small. Give them small tasks, like mapping out where your potential customers may be found, developing buyer personas, and tracking consumer data.
You want to guide them to think critically about how your business works, and then they will be able to contribute ideas and understand the plan as it works in your business structure. Once they see the data, they will become more familiar with the organizational tasks.
5. Delegate Tasks Based on Importance or Pain Point
This should go without saying, but you want your VA to complete the tasks in order of importance. If you have a critical pain point that you need your VA to hit, then get them on it ASAP.
Sometimes it can be hard to see which tasks are more important. For example, if you are busy answering emails and can’t get to the job site on time, this can become a problem.
Well, do you want your VA to answer emails, or do you just want time to think of a better solution, like an FAQ page, so that you don’t have as many customer emails?
If you think you’re stuck in a cycle like this, you can ask your VA to go through and categorize the emails you are getting to understand trends.
6. Don’t Delegate All the Tasks at Once (and Then Never Train Your VA Again)
Your VA will be with you for the long haul, so it’s okay to start with a few tasks and then go back for more. Therefore, start small and then add as you go.
Additionally, you’ll likely need them to do different kinds of tasks for you. Be sure to meet with them to train them either on how to do that one task better or other tasks.
7. Have Them Submit Regular Recaps
You should ask for a regular recap, either daily or weekly, so you know what they have completed in a given time frame. Have regular emails with them so that you can keep them accountable.
You should be regularly meeting with them for accountability and offering continual training. Make it easy for them to connect with you and then move forward with new tasks.
8. Outline Each Task’s Completion Date
When you assign tasks, give them due dates. While many people are autonomous and can work independently, most need due dates and timelines.
When you give a timeline, this helps your VA understand the urgency involved and get right on the tasks. Without the due date or time given, you may not know when you will receive the assigned tasks.
9. Set Realistic Expectations
VAs aren’t perfect, and neither are you. Be ready to work with them on some things. Even if you think you have the perfect communication skills, chances are some things will get lost in translation.
Additionally, you may find that the VA completed the task, but it looks different than you would have expected. The tasks will look different in your head or if you did them. Be patient and make adjustments if you need them.
10. Treat VAs With Respect
VAs are there to help you. It should go without saying that you should treat them with respect. Treat them like they are regular human beings, just like you (because they are).
Be patient and kind with them, and don’t forget the small talk. Being personable goes a long way with remote workers.
11. Praise Often and Celebrate Wins
Lastly, you’ll want to praise your VA and their completed tasks often. This helps them to celebrate wins, even if they are small.
Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant is someone who you hire that works for you remotely and completes menial tasks.
VAs can be one single person, or you can hire a completely virtual staff to complete a range of tasks.
VAs can have significant positive impacts on your overall business productivity and growth.
Even if you are just starting out, if you have a clear vision of how you want your business to scale, hiring a VA is a good idea.
They usually cost a minimal amount of money, and they can save you a great deal of time and energy.
Some benefits of a VA are that they are often autonomous and willing to work on their own.
They also don’t need a physical office, so you won’t have to pay the overhead for their services.
Since your VA is remote, you can hire someone anywhere in the world.
You won’t be limited by the talent pool in your local area, and you can hire a range of skill sets.
A VA can prevent burnout. Instead of doing everything, you can outsource to a VA and spend more time on more important tasks.
You can also spend time on areas of your business that you are better at.
Maybe you’re not so good at marketing, but you’re good at product development.
You can hire a VA to do different elements of your marketing plan, and then you can spend more time on product development.
On the other hand, you may be swamped with other areas of your business. This may involve high-value or income-generating activities.
If you need to spend more time making sales, completing house calls, or providing customer service, a VA can be implemented to do menial marketing tasks, administrative work, or organizational tasks.
Hiring a VA makes a lot of sense, but it will take time to train them. However, as long as you have some patience, your work will pay off in the long run.
While they are occupied helping you with menial tasks, you can go out there and generate more sales and build better relationships with your clients.
Consider a VA as an invaluable business expense.
Hiring a virtual assistant (VA) is one of the first things an entrepreneur or business owner can do.
While a VA can free up time for more critical tasks, they require some training.
Once hired, make sure to document their tasks, so they clearly understand their roles.
They’ll also need to know more about what they are doing and how it contributes to their overall goal.
Be sure to connect with your VA often and make it easy for them to submit regular recaps.
Keep them motivated by celebrating the wins! If you take the time to train your virtual assistant, you’ll be able to reap the long-term rewards!
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